Men who work in certain occupations continue to be at increased risk of lung cancer, new research from Italy shows.
In fact, about 5 percent of lung cancers in men are job-related, Dario Consonni of the IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan and associates found.
While cigarettes are by far the most important cause of lung cancer, chemicals and other on-the-job hazards “play a remarkable role” in lung cancer risk, the researchers write in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
To provide updated information on these risks, they looked at the association between lung cancer and jobs either known or suspected to increase the risk of the disease in 2,100 people diagnosed with lung cancer and 2,120 healthy individuals matched by age, gender and residence.
For men, about 12 percent had worked in occupations listed as known lung cancer risks, compared to 6 percent of controls; these occupations included mining, metalworking, and certain types of construction work.
Men in the known to be risky occupations were 74 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with lung cancer. The strongest associations were seen for ceramic and pottery jobs and brick manufacturing, as well as for those working in manufacturing of non-iron metals.
The same percentage of cancer patients and healthy individuals —about one in five —worked in the occupations suspected to be associated with lung cancer, indicating no overall increased risk. But the researchers did find a “marked elevated risk” for gas station attendants, and for people working in leather tanneries, glass workers, and welders, although these were based on a small number of people.
About 5 percent of men’s lung cancer risk could be attributed to occupation, the researchers found.
Among the 385 women included in the study, just three of the cancer patients and two of the healthy individuals worked in occupations known to be associated with lung cancer; this translated to a four-fold increased cancer risk, but because such a small number of women were exposed, this figure is “imprecise,” the researchers note. They did find “suggestive” increases in cancer risk for female launderers and dry cleaners.
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Source: The Daily Star, February 20, 2010